New Commission: Restoring a Lutyens Westminster Mansion to its Former Glory



New Commission: Restoring a Lutyens Westminster Mansion to its Former Glory

Monday, September 4, 2017

DGA have recently been commissioned for the once in a lifetime opportunity to work on a complete Edwin Lutyens building, one that boasts a framed view of Big Ben and a list of prior occupants that includes Westminster elites such as Major-General Sir Edward Spears and Loelia Ponsonby, Duchess of Westminster (said to be the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny).

Few names make architects more glassy-eyed than Edwin Lutyens. Renowned for his ability to think both at a city-wide scale (most notable in his role designing New Delhi) and at the most minuscule level of tiny, playful details that fascinate to this day, Lutyens was the last architect to build the grand country homes and stately buildings that one pictures when they think of British architecture.

Sadly, the house hasn’t received the adoration that a Lutyens building deserves. In fact, for much of its history, it hasn’t been a house at all. From 1942 until 2003 it was used for offices and showrooms, during which time its identity as a grand, extravagant mansion has gradually been eroded. Dropped ceilings have covered up the original plasterwork, the sash windows are in disrepair and the basement has been flood-damaged.

Luckily, the current owners want to see this six-storey masterpiece restored to its former glory, and have asked us how to do it. Starting with our Feasibility Study service, we’ve drafted three potential avenues for refurbishment for our client to choose from – each with their own fully estimated cost and likelihood of passing planning.

Whichever option they choose, working on a building with such heritage significance will be half architecture, half archaeology. To gain planning permission on a listed site, we will have to repair and restore the original fabric as closely as possible, either with high quality replications or through historically accurate materials and methods.

It was thanks to our experience working with listed buildings such as Spring Terrace and Hemingford Road that we were selected for this project, and being able to realise the potential of such precious architecture is a prospect that excites rather than intimidates us.

And never has that excitement been more palpable than now: to be able to restore any Lutyens building is a dream come true for an architect, let alone one of such grand scale and intricate detail. From its hypnotising oval stairwell to its breathtaking marble and plaster columned entrance hall, this is a house that deserves to be celebrated for generations, and we’re honoured to have the opportunity to preserve its future.

John Dyer-Grimes